Gigi Sohn joins EFF hosts Cindy Cohn and Danny O’Brien as they discuss broadband access in the United States – or the lack thereof. Gigi explains the choices American policymakers and tech companies made that have caused millions to lack access to reliable broadband, and what steps we need to take to fix the problem now.
In this episode you’ll learn:
How the FCC defines who has broadband Internet and why that definition makes no sense in 2020;
How many other countries adopted policies that either incentivized competition among Internet providers or invested in government infrastructure for Internet services, while the United States did neither, leading to much of the country having only one or two Internet service providers, high costs, and poor quality Internet service;
Why companies like AT&T and Verizon aren’t investing in fiber;
How the FCC uses a law about telephone regulation to assert authority over regulating broadband access, and how the 1996 Telecommunication Act granted the FCC permission to forbear – or not apply – certain parts of that law;
How 19 states in the U.S. have bans or limitations on municipal broadband, and why repealing those bans is key to increasing broadband access
How Internet access is connected to issues of equity, upward mobility, and job accessibility, as well as related issues of racial justice, citizen journalism and police accountability;
Specific suggestions and reforms, including emergency subsidies and a major investment in infrastructure, that could help turn this situation around.
Gigi is a Distinguished Fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy and a Benton Senior Fellow and Public Advocate. She is one of the nation’s leading public advocates for open, affordable and democratic communications networks. From 2013-2016, Gigi was Counselor to the former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler. She advised the Chairman on a wide range of Internet, telecommunications and media issues, representing him and the FCC in a variety of public forums around the country as well as serving as the primary liaison between the Chairman’s office and outside stakeholders. From 2001-2013, Gigi served as the Co-Founder and CEO of Public Knowledge, a leading telecommunications, media and technology policy advocacy organization. She was previously a Project Specialist in the Ford Foundation’s Media, Arts and Culture unit and Executive Director of the Media Access Project, a public interest law firm. You can find Gigi on her own podcast, Tech on the Rocks, or you can find her on Twitter at @GigiBSohn.